View Full Version : Plaque Help Needed

Chuck Patterson
03-16-2010, 2:19 PM
I need some help with this. Just can not seem to get in the groove with this project.

Customer came in with an existing plaque and asked if I could replicate it. (see attached, 5"x7" Walnut finish particle board, with design digitally printed on Sintra) They requested that I bid it for a quantity of 100 and make 1 replica for proofing.

I did as asked. Bid was accepted and replica was made. Took it to the people and they said quality was excellent but it needed something more, it was just to "plain and blah". WHAT!!!!!???? I copied it to an exact T. Used their existing art file and everything. All I had to do is print and apply. I asked what more they want and they did not know. My mind is so blown away with frustration on this project right now I can't think straight.

Mentioned to them that this changes the scope of the project and will need to be re-quoted. They assured me that I still have the job, just need to revise the quote to reflect added work, supplies, or whatever to get the end product to their satisfaction.

Any ideas that will help me get unstuck and back on track?

Is it color, font, background picture, something missing, some sort of accessory I can add, ??????

Mike Null
03-16-2010, 2:53 PM
You might devise some sort of frame around the picture.

Tony Lenkic
03-16-2010, 3:11 PM

Is that laminated plaque?
How about engraving/paint fill that text above and below picture. As it is text is to large and is crowding the picture.
You can also use laser foil to cut-out text form it and picture will be clearer. This might be something they are after.

John Noell
03-16-2010, 3:20 PM
Even little things might help. Maybe make the lowercase letters small caps to make it look a bit more formal?

Mark Plotkin
03-16-2010, 3:31 PM

I would start by using your laser.. take the particle board and toss it as fast as you can! Get a real wood alder plaque, cut out the background on the photo and engrave right on the plaque. Get the chamber logo and space things out better. You will then offer a true keepsake not a cheap plaque.
I do my chambers, some add the business name and some don't. The ones that do just send me an excel file so there is no proofing after the accepted layout.

good luck....

Ron Chapellaz
03-16-2010, 4:12 PM
IMHO the sub plate could also be slightly larger. It seems there may to be too much plaque showing. If you made the sub plate larger, then you could work on rescaling the image and text. I would make the mountain photo larger while retaining the text at the current size. I myself prefer plaques that have more of a cove on them or even the gold cove. That helps things stand out even more.

These plaques will likely be mounted on the wall for customers to view from a distance so I think the larger plate will help. I would also put a sublimated border around the image or possibly double plate with a gold one behind to give it an extra touch.

Hope this helps!

Gary Hair
03-16-2010, 4:51 PM
Depending on their budget, how about mounting the plate on a marble plaque instead? How about using a silver plate instead of white, it would give it a completely different look. I would also make the plate larger, leave about 1/8-1/4 margin instead of the wide margin you have now. I would probably use vinyl plaques instead of real wood, especially if they have a strict budget.


Dan Hintz
03-16-2010, 5:17 PM
Be careful... you could come up with a great new design, give them a new quote, then have them take your design somewhere else that quotes lower. Then you're REALLY stuck...

Chuck Patterson
03-18-2010, 1:00 PM
Thank you everyone. All great ideas. I will present all ideas to the Chamber and see what they think.

Mark, what a great idea of engraving right on to the wood. I attempted this but it just did not come out looking great. Maybe I am doing something wrong or the quality of the picture is just bad. I am very new to converting photos and then engraving. Think I need to search the forum for tips on this technique and do some more practicing.

James Terry
03-18-2010, 7:24 PM
I agree on ditching the photo. It is not even clip art worthy.

How about engraving the text onto the plaque, fill with a white stain/wash, cut out the profile of the mountain from 3/32 alder, use a white stain on it, and glue to the plaque.

Things always look better with dimensionality.

You could also do some work on the image and then use 3D mode on your laser and see if you can get some quality mountains etched out onto a test substrate.

You could even make the entire plaque like a large stamp, 3D engrave the mountains and the text above, essentially removing everything inside of the frame border except the text and mountain scene. Thats a lot of lasing though, but good creative stuff just cant be had cheap.

Dee Gallo
03-18-2010, 9:18 PM
I don't think the photo is at fault, even though it might be boring. The large same-same-same lettering at the top is unbalancing the layout. Mountains are meant to seem heavy, the air above helps to create the correct feeling. Filling the air with heavy black letters kills the weight. And the too big border crushes the concept of a mountain.

I would think about changing the typeface to a Roman (thick & thin) which will have a more formal appearance, in keeping with an award. I would also vary the weight of the phrases..which is the most important and least important? If the name of the county is most important, that should be the biggest, for example.

I would also use the space around the photo instead of printing on it. To make it more dynamic, maybe push one phrase to the side, make a small box around another one and overlap that on the photo to break up the box.

There are 20 ways you could go with this, but basic layout skills are definitely indicated! Whoever designed this had no clue.

Personally, I think the mountain lends itself well to direct engraving, whether on stone, acrylic or wood. The photo is cheesy for an award. I like the idea of doing it on the back of a clear cast acrylic and mounting that on wood, then engraving the words on the front. Simple, cheap and easy, plus it uses the mountain-in-the-distance feeling well.

cheers, dee

Ross Moshinsky
03-19-2010, 7:14 AM
How much are you charging per plaque right now? Some of the ideas posted here sound good, but pretty time consuming thus making them costly. On a run of 100, based on what you've shown in the picture, I'd imagine you are in the $30-50 range per piece.

I'd combine a couple ideas on here, but I think the most cost effective method would be to get a laser engravable board. And engrave the mountains and text. It will look a lot more desirable. I would NOT fill anything. For $30-50, it's definitely not an effective use of time to fill with paint or enamel. I could see maybe filling one small portion of the plaque to give the mountains a little color, but beyond that, I wouldn't do it. I actually don't like to fill so I wouldn't even offer it as an option.

If you figure a nice laser engravable board is $5(JDS has some really nice ones on sale today for a significant discount), 3x markup is $15. Then roughly 50 characters at $.25 a letter is $12.50. Artwork to engrave is probably another $12.50. So $40 for a nice plaque. For 100, it might even be okay to go down to $30-35.

Jim Coffee
03-20-2010, 12:23 AM
Consider having the plaques custom cut in the shape of the mountain. Then rectangular engraved plates on that.

Just a thought.

Mark Plotkin
03-20-2010, 1:35 AM
having done quite a bit of chamber work I would guess the budget for these is around $ 10 to $15 each at best. again back to my previous post, I would engrave these on solid alder plaques. I would use the font off the chamber website which is more of a script for the name and move the word member to the bottom. Dee has some great points about design. I would have the photo converted to line art and engrave directly on the wood. A 5 x 7 blank cost around $3.00 and this job would take around 6 minutes to engrave. Working for the chamber directly is more like wholesale work, but there is great value in having 100 pieces of your work on display at business that you can then go get their business and point to the wall and say "I did that". Again for this price, no plate, no processes, just put in the machine, fill the table and hit GO.

I make my money from the chamber's annual and special awards that they give during the year, not on the membership plaques.

good luck..

Hilton Lister
03-20-2010, 4:35 AM
Dye Sublimation would lend itself to this plaque. Easy job

Probably on silver satin aluminium(I use mainly Mirror finish, but it's quite tricky to handle). I would make the plate 10mm smaller all round than the inside of the chamfered edges. Do a 2mm outline about 3-5mm inside that, then print the mountain in an oval shaded vignette, with the lettering below. Title and member in 2 different fonts Member probably in a Full Script Like "Snell" or "Edwardian".
Much like many Service Club plaques we see. If you really want to get carried away, you can shadow the text or even shade the outline box at the corners.

Once you have the initial layout done, it's a piece of cake to print them. However, seeing this is an Engraving forum, this is probably off topic

Roy Nicholson
03-22-2010, 5:59 AM
You can get sublimation plate that you can laser through to reveal the gold lettering...


Roy N.

Stephen Beckham
03-24-2010, 9:13 AM
Add a plastic Gavel to the bottom - COC's love the gavel... Cost you an extra $1.25 to bolt the plastic one below the photo (move it up a bit), and you mark it up another $4-$5 each...